So this morning I concentrated on setting up the plan to get to Springer and the scripting out the first couple of resupply points. I am not a huge believer in scripting each day on the trail because I simply do not know what is coming with respect to physical condition or weather conditions. There will be days I will need to do less, or maybe can do more, because of either or both of those variables. The other thing a script can do is ruin what is right in front of you that day as you are more concerned with where you need to be by such and such a time or date and not in the moment. However, I do want to script out the first couple of resupply points to have a general plan in place in the beginning. Once I am on the trail I can call or message Leslie about future resupply points and number of meals to include in the resupply boxes. I also developed an end date this morning, or at least the general plan for one. I am starting on April 28th and want to end by 140 days later (a nice round 20 weeks), which gives me an end date of September 14th. This means I will need to average approximately 15.6 miles per day overall. And that puts me in Harper’s Ferry right around July 4th, which mentally is my cutoff date for whether or not I want to flip flop the hike.
The reason a flip flop might be necessary is that Mount Katahdin in Maine typically closes by Oct. 15th each year due to deteriorating weather conditions. I am not a huge fan of the cold to begin with so I would like to be done by September 1st, but understand that mid-September is more reasonable goal. If I get to Harper’s Ferry by July 4th I am on track for a mid-September finish. If I get there after July 4th, I am going slower than I had hoped, and risk not being able to summit Katahdin if I keep hiking north. At that point, I would then get transportation to Maine and Mount Katahdin and hike south from there back to Harper’s Ferry to finish my thru-hike. That is a flip-flop. And it may be necessary if I start in Georgia.
A picture of Katahdin on October 25th this year.
With my late start date other flip-flop options are available to me as well. I could start in Harper’s Ferry, hike to Katahdin, then travel to Harper’s Ferry and hike south to Springer, or even travel to Springer and hike north to Harper’s Ferry. I really like the start and finish at Harper’s Ferry idea and am considering that as a possibility. I have made contact with another thru-hiker (Clark “Mr. Sunshine” King) that did that very hike (hike Harper’s Ferry to Katahdin, travel to Springer and hike Springer to Harper’s Ferry) and will be reading his account of his trip very soon to help me make my decision.
In any event, the planning of this morning was as follows:
April 26th – Complete my physical in the morning and then Leslie and I leave noonish and head south. Drive 6 or 7 hours and stop for the night.
April 27th – Drive the remaining 5 or 6 hours to Amicalola Falls State Park & Lodge, explore the park and the waterfall and stay there for the night.
April 28th – Leslie sees me off at Springer Mountain mid morning. The parking lot is about a mile north of the actual trail head. So Leslie will hike south with me to the trail head, we will both hike back to the parking lot where I will get my pack (slack pack the first mile! WOO!) and then I will head out for Day 1 on the trail. (Slack pack means to complete trail miles without your full pack.)
Here are my notes for the scripted first two resupply points:
In Pack 5 Breakfasts/5 Lunches/5 Dinners
Day 1 (Fri 4/28): Springer to Horse Gap – 10.5 – LD
Day 2: Horse Gap to Ramrock Mountain – 8.5 / 19.0 – BLD
Day 3: Ramrock Mountain to Bull Gap – 13.8 / 32.8 (better site at Wolf Laurel Top at 35.3, 2.5 miles more) – BLD
Day 4: Bull Gap (or Wolf Laurel Top) to Low Gap Shelter – 10.4/7.9 / 43.2 – BLD
Day 5: Low Gap Shelter to Blue Mountain Shelter (or Blue Mountain) – 7.3 / 50.5 – BLD
Day 6 (Wed 5/3): Blue Mountain Shelter to Unicoi Gap GA (resupply and overnight in Hiawassee at Top of Georgia Hostel & Hiking Center) – 2.4 / 52.9 – B
8.82 Average per day
In Pack 4B/3L/4D (Bring lunch from Hiawassee (SUBWAY!) for first day of this section)
Day 7: Unicoi Gap GA to Addis Gap – 11.3 / 64.2 – LD
Day 8: Addis Gap to Bly Gap – 14.4 / 78.6 – BLD (First State Done now in NC!)
Day 9: Bly Gap to Beech Gap – 12.1 / 90.7 – BLD
Day 10: Beech Gap to Long Branch Shelter – 11.8 / 102.5 – BLD
Day 11 (Mon 5/8): Long Branch Shelter to Winding Stair Gap – 7.3 / 109.8 – B – (shuttle to Franklin, NC stay at Gooder Grove AT & Adventure Hostel, resupply)
11.38 Average per day
I think that is a very reasonable start to the trail and getting into hiking condition. In all my hiking doing treks at Philmont I noticed that at the end of the hike is when I was starting to get my trail legs. Those hikes were generally 10 days and around 75 to 90 miles. This is eleven days and just over 100 miles, with two nearo days (A nearo day is a low trail mileage day where most of the day was spent resupplying or relaxing, as opposed to a zero day where no trail miles were covered.)
Anyway, that is the plan for the opening salvo of this adventure.
More to come.